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     This evening was the final visit Taylor had with her biological mother. She was given one last visit to say her final good-byes before we complete the adoption process. We expected great fall-out. We expected tears, tantrums, misbehavior, or, at the very least, a rift between siblings (as Cameron is still required to have visits for the time being). However, what we DIDN'T expect was calmness. But, hey, I decided to roll with it (naturally) because I couldn't see the point in ruining a good thing by attacking it with questions! And then, she dropped the bomb..... Taylor was in the middle of talking about her visit when she referred to her biological mother, not as "Mommy" as she always has, but as "Mama". This is the name that we've been using for myself, since she already has several "Mommy"s in her life and we wanted me to have a special name that was unattached to the other women.
     "Mama." One word. One broken heart. It was like a sucker punch that you're not prepared for. The one that takes the wind out of you and your brain struggles to wrap around. The one that comes from a best friend and offers a feeling of betrayal followed by bitter tears. It actually took me several seconds to realize  she was asking me a question and that I needed to respond. So I had her repeat herself and I quickly answered, moving on to something to keep me busy and keep the tears at bay. Puzzles.... yes, that would do the trick! Let's do an alphabet puzzle. That way, even if my kids never attach to me, at least they won't be stupid.
     So, we spent the next hour doing alphabet puzzles, number puzzles, and color puzzles. They learned, they had fun, and then they got ready for bed. We read our story, did our prayers, and had a tuck in. I spent a few extra minutes with Taylor, since Cam had pooped out on us halfway through the story and started sawing logs. It was in those last few moments before bed that I did those embarrassing things that people do with their kids that they would never do if they knew a non-family member were watching. Afterall, it's ok to look crazy in front of your kids, but not in front of, say, your co-workers or the neighbors. For instance, if I pretended  to bite my boss' nose off, I doubt she would belly-laugh the same way my daughter did. And if I bounced random grocery store attendees up and down until they couldn't breathe, I'd be looking at a lawsuit instead of a beaming child. After I was done looking insane, I gave her one last tuck in, complete with hug and kiss, and I told her goodnight.
     I ducked into my room and was just slipping into my pajamas, allowing myself a moment to process the earlier string of emotions that threatened to spill over. This is when another unexpected event happened. I heard her tiny, little, Minnie Mouse voice call from the next room, "You're my bestest.... I love you as much as the sky."
     Silent smile joined by silent tears.
     "And I love YOU as much as the ocean," I said back.
     "I love your ocean, too."
     "Goodnight, Tay."
     "Goodnight, Mama."